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Name: People v. Pizarro
Case #: F057722
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 05/21/2013
Subsequent History: Review denied and ordered not published

A juror’s failure to follow the court’s instruction to not consider anything other than evidence at trial, by reading a prior appellate opinion on the case was misconduct calling for reversal. Appellant was twice convicted of murder and other charges and sentenced to life in prison. The first conviction was overturned due to DNA error. Following the second conviction, it was learned that juror 9, despite the court’s instruction to consider only evidence presented at trial, read the appellate opinion in the case and learned facts not presented during the second trial. Reversed. The appellate court viewed the juror’s gross misconduct as criminal (Pen. Code, sec. 96) and that it was inherently and substantially likely to have influenced the juror so as to warrant a new trial. (People v. Marshall (1990) 50 Cal.3d 907 and People v. Holloway (1990) 50 Cal.3d 1098.) The court also considered the DNA evidence and concluded that although the testing was based on the improper assumption that appellant is guilty, the error was harmless.